Last week we surveyed the commons network in an effort to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs experienced by individuals advancing the commons and commons solutions. In response, we heard from Nick Poole, chief executive of Collections Trust.
Collections Trust is an independent UK-based organization working with museums, libraries, galleries, and archives worldwide to improve the management of their Collections, a commons shared by us all. The work of Collections Trust “ensures that millions of people worldwide can continue to discover, enjoy, and learn from their history and knowledge and stories which bring it to life.”
Poole’s response to our inquiry about his effort to protect Collections was clear and insightful, and we are delighted to share it with our wider community.
— Jessica Conrad
A letter to On the Commons from Nick Poole:
I lead Collections Trust, a UK-based nonprofit organization working with around 23,000 museums, galleries, libraries, and archives across Europe. It is my firm belief that the principles, ethics, and spirit of the Commons lie at the heart of the public mission of the culture sector.
I have been working to promote the idea of a Cultural Commons for Europe—not only in the digital realm, but also by asserting that the millions of books, artifacts, and records in Europe’s cultural institutions belong to a commons of the world’s memory.
Through this work, I try to demonstrate that the Commons is not just an abstract set of ideas, but a very real and tangible means of building a lasting, scalable, transparent, and relevant culture sector for the 21st century.
But it has been a struggle to ignite this idea in my community. My main challenges include the following:
Although I’ve faced challenges, I’ve also discovered some successful solutions, including your Commons Framework. I also use a thought exercise where I ask people to imagine the difference between a piece of land that they own in common and one that is owned by a landlord. If you build on a piece of land that someone owns, the results of your labour are never yours. But if you build on, and care for, a piece of land that is held in common, then it is yours and everyone’s forever. This ought to be the primary purpose of a museum, archive, or library.
For more information about Collections Trust, you can visit their website at www.collectionstrust.org.uk. Email us at info[at]onthecommons.org to share your own challenges and triumphs in advancing the commons and commons solutions.